Juggling childcare and home working is proving to be stressful experience for parents and carers around the world.
It is so easy to bribe our children with snacks or use TV as a babysitter, but then our guilt kicks in as we struggle to earn our living in the other room furiously working on our laptop before the next snack/loo break.
So here I’ve put together a few tips that I find useful when working at home with a 3-year-old and a 16-month-old.
- Plan shorter meetings – this means you can be present with your children before and after, so helps keep them focussed throughout the day;
- Use your mobile – call into Skype or Zoom meetings from the phone so you are able to mute yourself and move around the manage the children;
- Prepare for lap time – if possible have 2 monitors, so you can put on a video on one screen whilst working on the other;
- Plan your work in 30-45 minute sprints – this enables you to alternate activities with your children and work;
- Have a seat besides yours – so often children want to be with you and see what you are doing. If they have a seat (and maybe even a desk) beside you, they can ‘work’ whilst you work;
- Put your coffee somewhere else – you may think it’s safe, but let’s be honest if you leave it somewhere out of reach it means it cannot be spilt and gives you a rest from the screen;
- Take breaks and play with your children – a particularly useful tip if you need space to think about a decision or response as your subconscious will work as you play;
- Single task – we are all used to multi-tasking during our working day, but with the threat of multiple interruptions, it is important that we finish tasks, so focus on one task at a time;
- Enjoy family meals – where possible, try to avoid taking your device or work to the dinner table. Focus on the social aspect of the meal – this is even more important during this time, as we have to focus on other things during the day;
- Be honest – most of us are in the same boat, if you have phone or webcam meetings tell the other attendees that you are looking after your X and Y year old children. Many of them will be in similar positions and you will win points in their eyes (rather than hide the problem/current situation) and show your human side.